Happy christmas everyone!!!
I love xmas, it is a time when we get to spend lots of time as a family and life is full of twinkling lights! It can be a time of sadness for some and a time of stress for many. If this is how you are feeling it can take a huge shift in perception for you to see things differently, but if there was ever a time to shed the fear of past and future and enjoy the right now, xmas is it.
‘Count your blessings, feel love and release your fears’
As we had the best family xmas lunch ever last year, I have decided not to rewrite another post, and to share the link here for the recipes and discussions from Xmas 2015. The mushroom gravy – wow – to die for! My overall diet has evolved to not consuming animal products personally, but my attitude remains the same, we are unique and listening to our body, cutting out as many processed foods and refined sugars is most important.
Here I share all you need to know about tapping in to the health benefits of chocolate!
Great skin, heaps of energy, super concentration and feeling good are just some of the benefits I have enjoyed from eating nutritious foods. As a teacher, a mum of teens and having once been sweet sixteen myself, I would say I have a little bit of an interest in this wonderful generation. Teens of the present, in my view, are much more open to taking charge of their own independence, be curious, brave and willing to question the status quo…
I love food, and making healthy taste good has become my mission. I am not giving up my energy levels and I am certainly not giving up chocolate and I would like to share with you why we don’t have to.
It may interest you to know that the Mayan Indians seem to the first to utilise chocolate. They crushed the cocoa beans, adding water to make a bitter drink as a medicinal solution. Furthermore, cocoa beans have been valuable for so long having also once been used as currency in central and South America, although much of the world’s cacao is now grown in Africa. It also makes sense that ‘Theobroma cacao’ the tree growing the cocoa bean translates to ‘the food of gods’ in Latin. We were drinking chocolate well before any other form was invented if the historical literature is to be believed, and some time around the 1600s it was being used to add to cakes. It was much later in 1847 that the Bristol company Fry & Son started to make chocolate as we know it now, mixed into a paste with sugar and milk.
You may have heard that chocolate has health benefits and has even been hailed by some as being a ‘superfood’, however there are a few things you need to know before reaching for that chocolate bar!
Raw cacao is known to be a powerful antioxidant, packed with nutrients and natural chemicals which have beneficial health properties, although, unless we mix it with other foods the bitter flavour can be quite unpleasant. We can take ideas from history, as we know that the Aztecs added a variety of ingredients including vanilla and flowers to make it sweeter.
Most chocolate bars we buy have very little cocoa (as little as 10%) the rest being made up of sugar, dairy and other not so great additives. Raw cacao is made by cold pressing the beans, ensuring most of the nutrients and living enzymes stay in tact. The cocoa powder you would generally buy from the supermarket has been heated at high temperatures which reduces the nutritional value. It is now easier than ever for you to try the ‘food of the gods’ in its best form as all health food shops stock cacao products including nibs (perfect with frozen banana and peppermint extract blitzed in a blender for a natural mint choc chip ice-cream) and raw cacao which can be added to smoothies.
It’s exciting that scientists continue to discover health benefits of cacao, and using a cocoa powder with no added sugar is a really cool way of adding taste to so many things for example, porridge, pancakes, yoghurt and home made rice pudding. Although, not as nutrient packed as the raw cacao, it still retains important nutrients including, magnesium, which helps us feel relaxed as it is involved in so many biochemical reactions vital in the human body! Iron, for the production of haemoglobin and therefore boosting our overall focus and energy – and phosphorus contributing to healthy bones.
Brain boosting chocolate ice-cream
This recipe is perfect for any time, but is a pleasure brain boosting treat – so enjoy!
You will need a powerful blender and freeze your banana without the skins – peel first.
- 1 banana peeled, chopped and frozen
- 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder (zero sugar)
- 2-3 tablespoons of dairy free milk (almond, coconut, rice, oat)
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract
- optional: add a quarter of avocado for extra creaminess and walnuts for more brain power and glowing skin
Interesting Choccy Facts:
1. ‘The Aztecs believed that the reason cacao beans inherently held so much value was because they believed that the beans were a gift from the God of Wisdom Quetzalcoatl. If you look closely, you’ll see that the words “chocolate” and “Quetzalcoatl” are similar. The modern word “chocolate” is believed to have derived from the name of this Aztec god.’
2. ‘Flavanols in cocoa have been studied for many years. They have been shown to help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the brain and heart, prevent blood clots, and fight cell damage.’
3. Dark chocolate contains more phytonutrients than milk or white.
4. A cocoa-enriched diet in young rats produces an immunomodulatory effect that prevents anti-allergen IgE synthesis, suggesting cocoa flavonoids could prevent or treat allergies.
5. The man who discovered America, Christopher Columbus encountered the cacao beans on one of his voyages to the American continents. Columbus himself didn’t much like the drink made from cacao beans, but he took it back to Spain to be used as medicine.
Thank you for reading, please share if you found value here and any questions please comment
lots of love and health,